Kaya awoke with a start to find a druid kneeling over her.
“My lady? You were hurt in battle with Khadorans.” Kaya cringed, both at the memory of her battle with Zerkova and at Overseer Alissa’s formal nature – she’d experienced the Wilding late. Late enough for a Llaelese upbringing to start to take hold, with all the pomp and circumstance that held.
Kaya had done nothing but fight running battles against Cryxians and Khador since she had got here, and it was a losing battle – they had numbers on their side, and Kaya could only kill so many and, if she was honest with herself, she couldn’t fight their magics. She hauled herself to her feet and greeted the Blackclads in front of her. She didn’t like it, but she needed their help.
Baldur had always said her independence would be the death of her...
Aleksandra Zerkova stormed into the council room like a frigid wind that caused everyone except Sorscha to shudder. The Kommander didn’t even look up from her maps.
“Koldun Kommander, glad you could come.”
“It still amazes me that you think you can play war, Kratikoff.” Zerkova glided past her with an air of contempt. “Still, at least you know when you’re outmatched and when to call for backup.” She slammed a scroll onto the table bearing the seal of the Empress. The two Warcasters locked gaze for what seemed like an eternity before the Greylord smirked. “I mustn’t keep you waiting, Irusk wants you back in Korsk.”
“KORSK!? But that’s nearly a week away!” Zerkova’s smirk grew wider.
“Then I suggest you start riding now. And while you’re on your way, please ensure my mechaniks are en route.”---
The arrangement had worked out, but as a mixed blessing. Morghoul had needed an extoller more knowledgeable than him in the arcane, and Makeda had sent the best. Still, as Supreme Aptimus Zaal marched into the tent, the paingiver had his doubts.
“I believe you need my assistance?” The extoller looked both at Morghoul and, somehow, through him. Even with everything he’d seen and done, this still unnerved him.
“Yes. We have a prisoner and, while I can get the information, I don’t know what to do with it.”
“Where, naturally, I come in?”
“Of course.” Morghoul turned to the Winter Guard crucified on a tree, and then to the beaten and bloodied soldier cowering at it’s base. He sharpened his claws and spoke to the man in broken Khardic.
“Now... You will tell me and my friend everything we need to know about these... Orgoth...”---
“So. What do we do with them?” Deneghra motioned to the Satyxis, the crew of the Widower that had been left after Skarre had gone off after Magnus.
“Use them?” Asphixious glided up behind her. “Until their captain returns, they will follow our orders.”“Indeed.” She turned to her Skarlock. “Ready them and my Mechanithrall. We still have a toy to find...”
Skarre had expended every augury in her pursuit of Magnus, and had ended up on the shores of a lake in Khador. Finally, after weeks of running, he turned to make his stand.
“Do you know why I’ve chased you here?” Magnus instinctively ducked under Takkaryx and parried Bloodworm, leaving himself open for a vicious headbutt, sending him sprawling to the floor. He stopped moving and hoped she’d take the bluff. “Get up, worm. I won’t be denied a good fight before I finish you.” The Cygnaran pulled himself to his feet and wiped the blood from his nose.
“Ah well, worth a try. And yes, I know that you think I owe you coin. Here. Take it.” He unclipped a pouch and threw it at her feet. She didn’t even look at it.
“This is no longer about the coin. You know too much.”
“That you’re looking for something? Most people are?” Skarre hurled a bolt of green fire at him and was at him before he’d recovered. Magnus’ vision flashed red, then white, and then he became very aware he was looking at his own intestines.
“Yes. I am. And these will help me find it...”
A hooded figure formed from a tree into the grove Alissa had chosen to meditate in.
“You have found her?” His voice was grating and deep, but not unkind.
“Yes, my lord. What would you have us do?”
“Just keep her alive. She doesn’t know what she’s getting into.”
“But my lord, she is headstrong, she runs into fights she knows she can’t win, and she has nearly died so many times already!” A booming laughter filled the grove.
“Yes, that sounds like the child. Still, you have your orders. Do this, and do it well.” The figure faded back into the trees. Closing her eyes again, Alissa contemplated her situation.
Things would not be easy...